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Timing, or Timing?

Posted by ifitsgotanengine on January 17, 2007

People seem to get this mixed up fairly often.

A few months ago, a fellow gave me a 1981 Honda CVCC. It was barely running. He told me that the water pump went out and “while I was in there, I went ahead and replaced the timing belt”.

Probably a good idea.

Trouble is, he didn’t know what the timing belt did. He reasoned that he did the job right “because I checked the timing with a timing light and it’s exactly right.”

How’s that again?

The timing belt (or chain) has exactly nothing to do with ignition timing. Nada. Zip.

That’s the distributor.

The timing belt controls valve timing. That is, it controls the relationship between the camshaft and the crankshaft. It tells the valves when to open, so that they don’t hit the pistons (worst case).

The distributor controls the ignition timing. It tells the spark plugs when to fire, so as to properly ignite the air/fuel mixture in the cylinder.

That’s what you check when you use a timing light.

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